The Differences Between ICD-9 Codes and ICD-10 Codes

Are you a professional medical coder? Then you have an important job, because your careful coding is vital for proper diagnoses, to monitor the health of the general population, accurate reimbursement, the smooth operation of facilities that provide medical care and more. That’s why a firm understanding and comprehensive training for the ICD-10 transition will be incremental to your medical coding career.

ICD-10 will replace ICD-9 on October 1, 2014 as the Unites State’s industry-wide coding system. Don’t stress. According to the AAPC, ICD-10-CM shares many similarities with ICD-9-CM, like the guidelines, conventions and rules. Anyone who is qualified to code ICD-9-CM should be able to easily make the transition to ICD-10-CM coding with the proper training. However, as a professional medical coder, there are several important differences between the two coding systems that you will need to prepare for.

According to the AAPC, Major Differences Between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM Include:

  • ICD-9-CM is mostly made up of numeric codes with three to five digits. ICD-10-CM will consist of alphanumeric codes with three to seven digits. The expanded characters of the diagnosis codes will provide more information concerning disease type, severity and anatomic site.
  • ICD-9-CM has about 13,600 codes and ICD-10-CM will consist of approximately 69,000 codes.
  • A single ICD-10-CM code can be found to not only pinpoint a particular disease, but also its current manifestation.
  • The current ICD-9-CM coding system does not require mapping. A two-year transition period, will allow access to both ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding systems until the transition is complete. Mapping will be required so that equivalent codes can be found for outcomes studies, medical necessity edits and more.
  • These major differences will impact information technology and software.

The transition to ICD-10-CM will help solve certain challenges that exist with the ICD-9-CM coding system. In fact, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), a primary concern today with ICD-9 is the lack of specificity of the information conveyed in the codes. The ICD-10 coding system seeks to ratify this challenge with characters in the code that identify left or right, initial encounter versus subsequent encounter and other important clinical information. With ICD-10, codes will increase in detail, offering more information, and also, greater laterality.

Another challenge with ICD-9 is that some of the chapters have reached capacity, so there is no way to add new codes. To help ratify this, new codes have been assigned to various chapters. However, this often makes it difficult for these codes to be located. Under the ICD-10 coding system, codes have increased in character length, which greatly increases the number of codes for future use and decreases the chances that chapters will run out of codes.

Overall, the move from ICD-9 code sets to ICD-10 code sets will mean more details, terminology changes and expanded concepts for laterality, injuries and other related factors. According to the AMA, while the complexity of ICD-10 will provide many benefits, the complexity also enhances the need for comprehensive ICD-10 training in order to fully grasp the changes that accompany the new code sets.

Early ICD-10 preparation is a smart choice. With advanced preparation, you can allow yourself adequate time to grasp all the necessary changes, as well as increase your marketability to health care facilities, doctors and more, who will need ICD-10 trained individuals to help ensure a smooth transition.

Consider taking an online ICD-10 course and enjoy the flexibility of self-paced learning that allows you to keep your career on track, focus on other personal responsibilities when needed and study 24/7 – in other words, when it’s most convenient for you. Before you know it, the October 1, 2013 deadline will be here, so take charge, seek out flexible, online ICD-10 training and gain the peace-of-mind and career edge you deserve.

Are you a professional medical coder? Learn about ICD-10 Codes changes and how to prepare for ICD-10.

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